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The 2012 Country Vintner Portfolio Tasting

March 31, 2012 1 comment

This past week I attended the 2012 Country Vintner Portfolio tasting in Washington, DC.  The tasting was held in the Hamilton Live which is a music venue located underneath The Hamilton restaurant owned by the Clyde’s Restaurant Group.  The building itself was completed in 1929 and for 60 years operated as the flagship department store for Garfinckel’s.  The space itself, being a music venue, featured very dark ceilings, walls, and floors along with spot lights.  I must admit after descending through the Audubon inspired restaurant above the cavernous venue felt a bit strange for a tasting.  But despite the slightly distracting background music I was able to taste through a variety of wines simply by closing my eyes and concentrating.  Unfortunately my pictures did not turn out as well as I had hoped.  I tried to rely on the spotlights but in some cases the positioning was not good and I neglected to use a fill flash.  I spend most of my time tasting the wines and writing my notes so I am still developing my ability to ask questions and take pictures.  Despite the darkness I think personalities still come through.

The Hamilton

What was fun about this tasting is that there was a high percentage of international and national winery owners and representatives that flew out for the tasting.  So I focused on individual wineries but also stopped by the tables of Paul Hobbs Imports and Trireme Imports.  Though Bartholomew Broadbent of Broadbent Selections was present, the individual wineries in his portfolio represented themselves.  Having a bit more time than my last tasting I managed to take notes on 62 wines.

The Hamilton Live

Table 6 – The Donum Estate

Anne Moller-Racke, The Donum Estate

Of the Stemmler wines I particularly liked the Ferguson Block and of the Donum, the Russian River Valley was quite a standout.

2008 Stemmler, Pinot Noir, Estate, Sonoma County
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged in 40% new French oak.  The nose was brambly with black and red fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit was creamy yet tart with spices.  The flavors were concentrated with lots of mouthfeel and some heft.

2008 Stemmler, Pinot Noir, Ferguson Block, Carneros
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines planted in 1974 on gravelly, loamy clay soils. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts, the wine aged for 16 months in 40% new French oak, with only the best barrels used.  The nose was a mixture of red fruit, roast earth, vanilla cake, and extinguished matches.  In the mouth there was good depth to the creamy black and blue fruit.  The flavors remained dense.  Needs time to open up.

2009 Stemmler, Pinot Noir, Nugent Vineyard, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from an 11 acre site planted in 1997. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and was aged for 18 months in 20% new French oak.  The nose contained brighter red fruit.  In the mouth there was some concentration, tilting towards tart fruit with appropriate acidity.  There was a good dense mouthfeel in the middle and notes of earth.

2008 Donum, Pinot Noir, Estate, Carneros
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged for 11 months in 70% new French oak. Only the best barrels are used.  The nose was of roasted red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were sweeter and softer than the Stemmler wines with an underlying licorice flavor.  It turned a bit inky and dense in the aftertaste.

2008 Donum, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged for 16 months in 70% new French oak. Only the best barrels are used.  The nose was a touch more brambly than the Carneros Estate with a piercing, black fruit note and some cookie dough.  In the mouth the good fruit had impressive presence.  Really quite nice.

Table 9 – Paul Hobbs

Matt Hobbs, Paul Hobbs

Having last seen Matt Hobbs at the California Barrel Tasting I was excited to see that he was pouring a range of Paul Hobbs wines.  While I liked the more expensive Chardonnay, Ulises Valdez Vineyard the less expensive Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley continues to be a strong offering.  The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon is very enjoyable while still promising a great future.

2009 Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from various properties on soils derived from weathered sandstone. The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation and aged for 12 months in 52% new French oak barrels.  There was a Chardonnay nose with a touch of hard barrel toast.  In the mouth were white tropical fruits with good restraint and some barrel notes.

2009 Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Ulises Valdez, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Ulisez Valdez Vineyard planted in 2002 on well-drained, brown sandy loam soils. The fruit was barrel-fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, and was aged 13 months in 67% new French oak barrels.  With good aromatic lift the nose reveals ripe white fruit.  In the mouth the fruit is delicate, flavorful, floral, and ample in scope.  The flavors become pastille with baking spices and creamy toast.

2009 Cross Barn, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir, fermented with indigenous and inoculated yeasts, and aged for 12 months in 23% new French oak barrels.    The nose is very fruit driven with brighter red aromas.  In the mouth the ripe fruit has a licorice note with tart/tangy cherries, and a sweet spiced finish.  Nice.

2009 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This wine is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Verdot sourced from Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras, Beckstoffer To Kalon, and Stagecoach vineyards. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrels, and was aged for 20 months in 74% new French oak barrels.  There was brambly fruit on the nose.  In the mouth the flavors are rich and expansive with gritty fruit, leather notes, good grapey tannins, and a chewy finish.  Very good.

2005 Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, To-Kalon, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel, and was aged for 20 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  In the mouth there are flavors of baking spices and creme caramel in this seductive wine.  Well stored and still tight, nevertheless the racy red and blue fruit is lifted in the mouth with a pervasive inky quality and chewy aftertaste.  A treat to try.

2007 Paul Hobbs, Syrah, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Kick Ranch Vineyard planted in 2001. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel, and was aged for 18 months in 67% new French oak barrels.  There is a familial nose with powdery, ripe fruit, and sweet spice. In the mouth the flavors are focused with black and red fruit which is tight with a linear inkiness in the finish.  Minerals and spice come out in the aftertaste.

Table 10 – Paul Hobbs Imports

Laura Corrigan, Paul Hobbs Imports

The Pulenta Estate wines show good value with  Bramare, Malbec, Machiori showing serious quality.

2011 La Flor de Pulenta Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines at 3,215 feet. It underwent malolactic fermentation with 50% aged in used French oak barrels.  The nose of fruit mixed with a touch of greenhouse florals with delicate texture.  In the mouth the ripe red and blue fruit was a little racy.

2008 Pulenta Estate, Malbec, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from vines at 3,215 to 3,445 feet. The wine was aged for 12 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  The nose was a little more aromatic and brambly.  In the mouth the black fruit had a cool aspect, plenty of acidity and showed firm structure.

2009 Bramare, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines at 3,018 to 3,537 feet. . The fruit was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel, and aged for 18 months in 70% new French and American oak barrels.  The nose was concentrated.  In the mouth the riper flavors had a powdery texture, a bit of spice, became chewy and had good ripe tannins.

2008 Bramare, Malbec, Machiori, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 50-year-old vines in the Machiori Vineyard. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel, and aged for 18 months in 37% new French and American oak barrels.  This showed cool strength and powder, the spicy tannins were well-integrated with the slightly tart red fruit.  The wine software enters the mouth then effortlessly expands to coat everything.  Nice.

Table 11 – Gouguenheim Winery

Patricio Gougenheim, Gouguenheim Winery

From this selection of value priced wines I would recommend the Malbec, Reserva.

2009 Gouguenheim, Merlot, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from vines at 3,600 feet. It was aged for four months in American and French oak. There was a leafy, flora nose with some texture. In the mouth the fruit had a rounder mouth feel, with powdery greenhouse notes, drying stones, and black fruit on the teeth.

2010 Gouguenheim, Syrah, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines at 3,600 feet. It was aged for four months in American and French oak. There was a young nose of fruity berries. In the mouth the fruit was fresh and controlled with some powdery sweetness.

2009 Gouguenheim, Malbec, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from vines at 3,600 feet. It was aged for four months in American and French oak. There was a tight nose with floral red and black fruit and drying tannins.

2010 Gouguenheim, Malbec, Reserva, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from vines at 3,600 feet. It was aged for eight months in American and French oak. There was a tight, spicy red fruit nose. In the mouth the tart red fruit had fine texture, spicy tannins, a creamy mouth feel and tilted towards brighter fruit.

Table 15 – A. A. Badenhorst Family Wines

Adi Badenhorst, A. A. Badenhorst Family Wine

Adi was great fun to taste with.  I particularly liked the Family White Blend, Red Secateurs, and Family Red Blend.  These are fun and tasty wines from South Africa with a strong personality.

2011 Badenhorst , Chenin Blanc Secateurs, Coastal Region
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from vines mainly planted in the 1960s. The fruit was picked over 12 days and added each day to what was already fermenting. It was aged on the lees for seven months. There was a nose of nutty white fruit. In the mouth there was a big mouthfeel with creamy, nutty white fruit, delicate white peach and apricot flavors.

2009 Badenhorst, Family White Blend, Coastal Region
This wine is a blend of 29% Chenin Blanc, 23% Roussane, 10% Grenache Blanc, 11% Viognier, 11% Chardonnay, 5% Colombard, 5% Grenache Gris, 2% Verdehlo, 2% Semillon, and 2% Clairette Blanche. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 13 months in 500 and 600 liter old oak casks before blending and a further 6-8 months aging on the lees in a single concrete tank. This revealed ripe fruit, slightly nutty with good integration of fruit and acidity, along with texture, some depth, and sweet spice.

2011 Badenhorst, Rose Secateurs, South Africa
This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Shiraz, and Grenache. The Cinsault was sourced from vines planted in 1963 with the Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1951. This seemed old-school with a hint of cheese.

2010 Badenhorst, Red Secateurs, Coastal Region
This wine is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, and Grenache sourced from granite soils. The fruit is fermented in cement tanks then aged for 14 months on the lees in casks, foudres, and cement tanks. There was a nice Rhone nose with some roasted earth. In the mouth the bright red fruit took on weight with air along with old-style perfume, a racy aspect, along with spicy, very fine drying tannins. There was black fruit in the finish. Very easy to drink.

2007 Badenhorst, Family Red Blend, Coastal Region
This wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz, 10% Mourvedre, 7% Cinsault or Cape Hermitage, and 3% Grenache. The fruit is stomped by food and fermented with indigenous yeasts. It was then age for 16 months in 500 liter used casks. There was a delicate, fruity nose with a hint of bramble. In the mouth the minerally red fruit was fresh and mixed with ripe tannins and a hint of white citrus peel flesh. Very young and in need of age.

Table 16 – Glenelly Estate

Nicolas Bureau, Glenelly

From May de Lencquesaing the previous owner of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux these, are serious, classically made wines.  I particularly liked the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2008 Lady May.  I would be curious to try the Lady May in several years.

2009 Glenelly, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels then was aged for 12 months in 33% new oak.  There was a nose of greenhouse florals and a bit of roast.  In the mouth the approachable flavors were of dark red fruit, violets, racy, and a little spicy.  Definitely enjoyable.

2010 Glenelly, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels then was aged for 12 months in 33% new oak.  This nose was young with similar with greenhouse florals and roast.  In the mouth the flavors were more delicate than the 2009 with spunti notes.  The wine was delicate with spicy, very fine tannins.

2007 Glenelly, Grand Vin de Glenelly, Stellenbosch
This wine is a blend of 44% Shiraz, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot which was fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels then was aged for 18 months in 33% new oak.  The tight nose was slightly mature.  There were lean, delicate dark purple fruit to this restrained wine.  Seem classical for aging.

2008 Glenelly, Lady May, Stellenbosch
This wine is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot which was fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels then was aged for 24 months in 33% new oak.  The nose was finely textured and enjoyable.  In the mouth there was good concentration and leafy floral flavors which were still tight.  There were fine, expensive tasting tannins in this wine with a finish which was racy, nice, and supported by good acidity.  Very good.

Table 17 – Warwick Wine Estate and Vilafonte

Mike Ratcliffe, Warwick Estate and Vilafonte

After drinking Warwick Wines for a decade it was a treat to meet Mike Ratcliff.  The Three Cape Ladies is in need of age but the Vilafonte, Series C reveals hints of development and is downright attractive.  Be sure to check out the upcoming James Bond movie where 007 enjoys a glass of the Three Cape Ladies.

2008 Warwick, Pinotage, Old Vines, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Pinotage which was aged for 18 months in second and third use 225 liter barrels. There was a nose of ripe red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were red with linear acidity then a racy black fruit with a fine texture.

2009 Warwick, Three Cape Ladies, Stellenbosch
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Pinotage which was fermented in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 28 months in 33% new 225 liter French oak barrels. The ripe red and black fruit was structured and tight, will greatly benefit from age.

2007 Vilafonte, Series M
This wine is a blend of 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec. There was good fruit on the nose which was expressive and articulate. In the mouth there was black and red fruit which was juicy. Needs a few years to express itself.

2006 Vilafonte, Series C
This wine is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. Though more structured there was a really nice mouthfeel with black fruit flavors, minerals, cedar, expansive flavors, and long aftertaste. Quite nice.

Table 18 – Semeli Estate Winery and Dalamaras

Leonidas, Semeli Estate Winery and Kostis, Dalamaras

The Semeli wines were of lighter personality.  The 2005 Dalamaras had an interesting nose and showed drier and lighter in the mouth than I expected.  The oldest Greek wine I have had yet and it has plenty of life ahead.

2010 Semeli, Feast, Agiorgitiko, Peloponnese
There was a good floral nose of red and blue fruits. In the mouth the red and black fruit mixed with plenty of acidity, stones, was light in the mouth and a touch soft.

2010 Semeli, Agiorgitiko, Peloponnese
This had a floral nose, a bit darker and riper, with some structure and hints of raciness.

2005 Dalamaras, Paliokalias, Xinomavro, Naoussa
This wine is 100% Xinomavro. There was a light to medium-strength maturing nose. There were drier, mature flavors in the mouth with lots of salivating acidity. It took on some dark red fruit and became a little racy.

Table 19 – Trireme Imports

Josh Lavis, Trireme Imports

I knew I had to taste the wines of Trireme Imports since I am on a bit of a Greek wine kick.  Of the white wines I enjoyed the Hatzidakis, Assyrtiko and for the reds the Nikiforou Cellars, Red Blend.

2010 Petros Honas, Phelonoe, Muscat, Limnos
This wine is 100% Muscat. The nose was very aromatic with floral and ripe fruit aromas. In the mouth it was very dry with a nutty flavor.

2010 Hatzidakis, Assyrtiko, Santorini
This wine is mostly Assyrtiko with some Athiri and Aidini. There was a very light, delicate nose. In the mouth it was a little richer with a focused core throughout and something akin to flor. There was a good mouth feel and some spice along with a saline quality.

2010 G. Lafazanis, Epicus, Agiorgitiko, Peloponnese
This wine is 100% Agiorgitiko. There was a light nose of floral fruit and a touch of caramel. In the mouth the br red fruit turned grapey, was light in flavor, a little soft, with a bit of a citric finish.

2009 Nikiforou Cellars, Red Blend, Peloponnese
This wine is a blend of 80% Agiorgitiko and 20% Grenache. There was a nice nose, showing more mature aromas including wood box. The mouth was fresher and younger thought it still followed the nose a bit but more bright and grapey.

Table 20 – Quinta das Arcas

Antonio Montiero, Quinta das Arcas

The Tinto will make for a good spring wine and still reasonably, priced the Tapada de Villa, Reserva was my favorite of these three wines.

2010 Conde Villar, Tinto, Regional, Alentejo
This wine is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Allicante Bouschet, and Touriga Nacional.  Aromas of bright red fruit with a touch of floral on the nose.  In the mouth the fruit was quite ripe with black and red fruit, floral component, and grapey character.

2009 Conde Villar, Tapada de Villa, Alentejo
This wine is a blend of Allicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, and Trincadeira.  The nose was more lifted than the Tinto with piercing red fruit and chocolate aromas.  In the mouth the tart red fruit mixed with old perfume then softened up with light acidity as the flavors followed the nose.  It wrapped up with strong and spicy fine tannins.

2009 Conde Villa, Tapada de Villa, Reserva, Alentejo
This wine is a blend of Allicante Bouschet, Aragonez, and Alfrocheiro.  Produced in only the best years the nose was of blacker fruit, a touch floral with sweet aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were more lifted with lanolin, a good delicate strength, black fruit in the finish, and powerful grapey fine tannins in the aftertaste.

Table 21 – Quinta do Crasto

Miguel Roquette, Quinta do Crasto

I have enjoyed the well-priced Tinto before so was pleased to see the Superior show well and would definitely recommend trying the Old Vines, Reserva in five or more years.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Flor De Crasto, Douro
This wine is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional sourced from 8-10 year old vines on soils of schist. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The nose was expressive with fruity, grapey aromas. In the mouth the slightly ripe fruit was fresh, perfumed with simpler flavors. This was a nose driven wine.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Tinto, Douro
This wine is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional sourced from 20+ year old vines on soils of schist. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The nose revealed darker fruits along with red grapey aromas. In the mouth the chewy red and blue fruit had some perfumed, a nice finish, and the right amount of drying tannins.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Superior, Douro
This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Souzao sourced from old vines on soils of Schist. It was fermented in stainless steel and aged for 12 months in 225 liter French oak barrels. There was more depth to the fruit in the nose. In the mouth the medium bodied wine had hints of sweet spice, perfume, and a longer finish. There was red fruit and perfumed lavender in the aftertaste. Will age well.

2009 Qiunta do Crasto, Old Vines, Reserva, Douro
This is a field blend of 35+ varietals averaging over 70 years of age. The food trodden fruit is then aged for 16 months in 85% French and 15% American oak barrels. Though double-decanted one hour prior the dark brambly nose did not give up much. There was a good mouthfeel, depth to the fruit, ripe tannins, and overall pleasure.

Table 23 – Grupo Pesquera

Miguel Angel Bocos, Grupo Pesquera

All of these wines are 100% Tempranillo so this was an interesting selection to taste through.  The El Vinculo was the largest of all of them, the two Pesquera are young and in need of age to reveal themselves.  I still think the Dehsa La Granja is quite attractive and strongly priced for the quality.
2005 El Vinculo, Crianza, La Mancha
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for 18 months in new American oak barrels. There was a nose of maturing red fruit. In the mouth this wine was riper and bigger with flavors of dried Asian noodles, some black fruit, supporting acidity, and a pervasive aftertaste.

2008 Condado de Haza, Ribera del Duero
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 15 months in mostly American oak. There was stinky red fruit with sweaty leather on the nose. In the mouth there were red grapefruit flavors at first followed by young, light, and simpler bright red fruit.

2005 Dehesa La Granja, Zamora
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which underwent malolactic fermentation in new oak barriques followed by aging for two years in barrel. There was a slightly brambly red fruit nose with a hint of balsam. In the mouth there was good mouthfeel to the young and focused fruit. The good acidity mixed with drying tannins. This is at a young stage and needs age. Tasty.

2000 Dehesa La Granja, Seleccion, Zamora
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for 30 months in new French barriques. The nose was mature with a little cedar but remained tight. In the mouth there was good minerality, racy flavors with easily expanded in the mouth. There were old oak notes and black fruit in the finish.

2008 Pesquera, Reserva, Ribera del Duero
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for 24 months in American oak barrels. The nose revealed hard black and floral aromas supported by some red grapefruit. In the mouth the delicate red fruit had red citrus back it then drying tannins.

2008 Pesquera, Tinto, Ribera del Duero
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for 18 months in American oak barrels. There was a young, tight nose. In the mouth the red and blue fruit was a bit chewy followed by a grapey finish and drying tannins. Needs age.

Table 28 – Dr. Fischer

Karin Fischer, Dr. Fischer

Karin Fischer aims to make mineral-driven wines that are food friendly.  Both of these wines show good characteristics.

2010 Dr. Fischer, Riesling, Estate
There was a light nose of white fruit and apricots. In the mouth the wine showed focus with nice, crisp perfumed white fruit which turned towards grapefruit.

2010 Dr. Fischer, Riesling, Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett, Mosel
There was a ripe and fresh nose. In the mouth the flavors were very precise, with lots of minerals, orange-like citrus notes, and a dry finish.

Table 28 – Weingut Fitz-Ritter

Achim Eberle, Weingut Fitz-Ritter

The Sekt was an easy-going drink but since I do not drink much Gewurtztraminer these days I was curious to try the Spatlese.  Though I would prefer a bit more acidity for this sweeter wine, it is nonetheless quite interesting with its melons, rose, and old-perfume.

NV Weingut Fitz-Ritter, Riesling Sekt, Pfalz
This wine is 100% Riesling. There was light, yeasty, delicate fruit on the nose. In the mouth it was apple-like with very crisp entrance into the mouth, very fine bubble, along with a good mouthfeel and acidity.

2010 Weingut Fitz-Ritter, Gewurtztraminer Spatlese, Pfalz
There was a medium strength nose of melons and ripe, floral fruit. In the mouth there were floral, rose notes, a touch of sweetness and perhaps lychee through. There was a long finish with old-perfume flavors.

Table 29 – Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider

Ursula Muller, Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider and Weingut Muller

I must admit I particularly liked the red Dornfelder Trocken.

2009 Schneider, Dornfelder Trocken, Rheinhessen  
The nose was very fresh with bright red cherry aromas. In the mouth the fruit was very focused, floral, and with a mineral vein before taking on black red fruit and good acidity.

2009 Schneider, Riesling, Niersteiner Paterberg Kabinett, Rheinhessen
The nose was light with medium to dark yellow fruit. In the mouth there was ripe, yellow and white fruit, underlying acidity and minerals. There was some residual sweetness.

2010 Schneider, Riesling, Niersteiner Hipping Spatlese, Rheinhessen
There was a delicate yet lively nose. In the mouth the floral yellow fruit was ripe with plenty of acidity and a long, textured finish.

Table 29 – Biohof Pratsch

Jan Kux, Naturally Organic Agriculture, Biohof Pratsch

Of these three wines I enjoyed the Gruner Veltliner Rotenpullen for its balance of minerals and acidity.  One could drink this wine without food, which is typically what I do.

2011 Biohof Pratsch, Gruner Veltliner, Weinviertel
This had a nose of apples and yellow fruit. In the mouth there was almost piercing acidity, calcium like minerals, and a dry aftertaste.

2010 Biohof Pratsch, Zweigelt, Weinviertel
There was a light red nose. In the mouth the young, grapey flavors mixed with good acidity, some texture, and purple flavors in the finish.

2010 Biohof Pratsch, Gruner Veltliner Rotenpullen, Weinviertel
This revealed stones on the nose. It was richer in the mouth with stones, and more focus.

Trying the Concentrated 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa

During my recent Seattle trip I was excited to find bottles of 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake.  I have previously posted about Baer Winery and have been fortunate to drink a few bottles of the sauvage 2007 and the rippling 2008.  The 2008 received 95 points from Wine Spectator and was 6th in their top 100 wines for 2011.  So after letting the bottle settle in our basement I pulled the cork.  This vintage shows a shift with Cabernet Franc becoming the prime varietal and Petit Verdot disappearing from the blend.  Curious about the change I emailed Lisa Baer.  She responded that “our aim is to create blends that are consistently delicious and distinctive.”  The Ursa always contains both Merlot and Cabernet Franc complemented by other Bordeaux varietals which are always sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard.  The proportions are freely changed each year because they “blend it to a flavor profile,  until it tastes like ‘Ursa.'”.

Having now drunk my fourth vintage of Ursa I think it again tastes great.  While drinkable now the 2009 vintage will require more age to open up than previous vintages.  So if you manage to find a few bottles then I highly recommend you cellar them for the short-term.

2009 Baer Winery,  Ursa, Columbia Valley – $38
This wine is 44% Cabernet Franc, 38% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Malbec which was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak.  The nose was subdued with low-lying fruit.  In the mouth there are gentle, concentrated floral black fruit flavors.  There is an understated violet component along with ripe, finely textured tannins which play a supporting role.  With air there is some spice along with a purple, inky flavor but the wine still plays it close.  This will benefit from short-term cellaring.  ***(*) 2015-2022.

I Try a White Wine from the Loire

March 28, 2012 2 comments

Marc Olivier runs Domaine de la Pepiere. Excited by his degree in viticulture from Macon he started working at his uncle’s winery in 1979. He purchased a neighboring 20 hectare estate when it went up for sale in 1984. Today there are some 28+ hectares of vines and as of 2010 he works with partner Remi Branger. The estate is run organically, the fruit hand-harvested, and fermented using indigenous yeasts. This particular wine the Clos des Briords is made from fruit sourced from a particular plot containing the oldest vines on the estate. They were planted in 1930. The soils are different from the rest of the estate with a deeper layer of clay and silicate over brittle granite. This wine is fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel vats for eight months then it is bottled.

Sur Lie is a French term for “on the lees.” The lees are the deposits at the bottom of the tank from fermentation. The lees are composed of live and dead yeast cells along with bits of grape particles. The extended contact with the lees imparts great flavor to the wine, particularly white wines where it is practiced in Muscadet. For the appellations of Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine, Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire, and Muscadet-Cotes de Grandlieu bottles labeled Sur Lie must stay on the lees over the winter and not bottled until after the third week of March. The wine must be bottled directly off the lees without racking or filtration. Marc typically bottles his wines in late May.

This is a strong and affordable selection. If you try it now then decant the wine for several hours ahead of time. Otherwise I would cellar it for a few years. I imagine this wine will develop well and last for some time. It is currently available at MacAthur Beverages.

2010 Domaine de la Pepiere, Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes, Clos des Briords, Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine – $16
Imported by Louis/Dressner. Tis wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne. Drunk over several nights the color is a very light straw and white sand combination. The light is light, crisp, and driven by acidity. In the mouth the precise white fruit enlivens the palete then rounds out. There is a fair amount of power and minerals towards the middle. With some ripeness and lemon flavors come out as the acidity causes one to salivate on the back and roof of the mouth. There is a long aftertaste with some tannins evident on the inside of the lips. With air the white fruit relaxes causing a gentle ripeness when first drunk. *** 2014-2022.

Two Rhones With Some Age

Veronique Peysson-Cunty has run Domaine de Font-Sane since the 1970s.  The 1998 Cuvee Futee is the first vintage I ever bought of Font Sane and we first drank it back in December 2007.  Back then I appreciated it for its brawniness and minerals but today the fruit is fading faster than the rest of the wine.  So drink up!

Vineyard, Image from Domaine du Trapadis

Domaine du Trapadis has 19th century origins and continued to sell the entire harvest until contemporary times.   Helen Durand started bottling some of the wine at the age of 16 in 1990 and by 22 she was running Domaine du Trapadis.  Over the last several years we have tried the 2000 Les Adres, Cotes du Rhone Villages Rasteau but always found it quite tight.  When MacArthur Beverages recently put out the entry cuvee of 2000 Rasteau I quickly snapped up a bottle.  It did not disappoint and proved to be a great example of a fully mature Cotes du Rhone Villages.

1998 Domaine de Font Sane, Cuvee Futee, Gigondas
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah sourced from 35-year-old vines.  It is only produced in the finest vintages.  The wine is aged for 24 months of which 8-12 months are spent in 100% new oak barrels.  There is a wild nose of leaner red fruit with a touch of pruned fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit flavors mix with dark wood notes.  There is plenty of acidity to keep things lively but the fruit is fading and becoming hard.  There are some sweet tannins, a bit of spice, and with air more weight and sweet spice in the finish.  The wine wraps up with drying tannins inside the lips.  Drink now but will certainly last.  ** Now.

2000 Domaine du Trapadis, Cotes du Rhone Villages Rasteau – $16
Imported by MacAthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan sourced from 20-year-old vines (at the time). The Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan are co-fermented with the Syrah fermented separately due to earlier harvesting, all with indigenous yeasts.  The wine is aged for 18 months in cement tank.  There is a light, maturing nose with a youthful core.  In the mouth the medium-weight red fruit bears a touch of roast, and cedar before turning gentle with soft red fruit, a touch ripe blue fruits with spice.  With air it takes on a light to mid-weight, fine, pebbly texture with ripe tannins.  Drinking at its peak right now.  *** Now-2015.

A Fun Wine from Villa Montefiori, Mexico

Vineyard, Image from Villa Montefiori

As soon as I spotted this bottle of Mexican red wine I grabbed it.  In 1985 Paolo Paoloni came to Mexico to work for Bodega LA Cetto.  A decade later the Paoloni family founded Villa Montefiori.  The family itself originates from Le Marche, Italy.  In 1998 they planted the estate with Italian and French varietals.  The first released vintage was 2005.  I rather enjoyed drinking this wine and I recommend that you give it a try.  I do not see to many Mexican wines for sale in the Washington, DC area and while that alone is enough reason to pick up a bottle, there really is serious effort put into this wine.  There is a touch too much sweetness in the fruit for my preferences but beyond that there are many attractive qualities to this wine.  I would be curious to read what you think.  This selection is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Villa Montefiori, Cabernet-Sangiovese, Valle de Guadalupe, Vaja California – $20
Imported by Southern Wine Group Imports.  This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Sangiovese which was aged for 10 months in new and used French oak barrels.  There is a nose of blue and black fruit with a lifted sweetness and eventually floral greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there are soft and ripe red fruit which makes way to racy black fruit and licorice, along with a touch of tartness and sweet spices.  There is a nice coating of minerally black fruit on the lips.  Tilting towards sweet this is a fun wine with good weight.  ** Now-2015.

An Appealing Young Wine from Nemea

March 24, 2012 1 comment

Ancient Greece, Southern Part, The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1911, Image from Univ. of Texas

Excited by the 2009 Thymiopoulos Vineyards, Xinomavro I continued my exploration of Greek wines by choosing another selection from Athenee Imports.  GAIA Wines was founded by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos in 1994.  In 1996 they were joined by Christina Legaki and additionally purchased a 7 hectare vineyard in the Koutsi subregion of Nemea.  Today they have wineries in both Nemea and Santorini.  The Notios wine is produced at the Nemea winery in Peloponnisos.  Peloponnisos is a peninsula located at the southern end of Greece.  Wine has been produced in the Nemea region for millenia as evidenced by descriptions from Homer.  If you look at the included map, Nemea is located in the north-eastern portion of Peloponnisos in the green-area near Corinth. The non-irrigated GAIA vineyards are located at 550 meters of elevation.

Vineyards in the Koutsi Subregion of Nemea, Image from GAIA Wines

This selection is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.  I would personally recommend this wine for current drinking though it might be worthwhile to cellar it for one year to see what happens.  Andrea (Athenee Importers) suggested chilling it down as a picnic and party wine.

2010 Gaia Wines, Notios, Agiorgitiko, Nemea- $13
Imported by Athenee Imports.  This wine is 100% Agiorgitiko sourced from the Koutsi subregion where the soils are marl and limestone.  It underwent malolactic fermentation.  On the first night this wine showed a fruity, easy-going manner perfect for warmer weather.  On the second night this was a light+ ruby color.  The young nose revealed lifted berries with cooler but ripe red notes and a floral aspect.  The flavors become stoney with some red and blue fruit mixing with acidity that marked the sides of the tongue.  There was good presence and it definitely became a more serious wine.  It wrapped up with cherry flavors which bore some weight, ripeness, and texture.  There were undertones of blue fruit in the aftertaste. **  Now-2015.

The 2012 Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting

March 23, 2012 1 comment

Baltimore

This week I took the time to drive up to Baltimore for the Bacchus Importers 2012 Portfolio Tasting held at the Hippodrome Theatre.  Built in 1914 the Hippodrome contains an intimate hall lit primarily by natural light from the large windows.  The tables were arranged around the walls of the hall and also in a rectangle at the center.  Together they held almost 400 different wines.  Just outside of the hall there were tables holding some 75+ different spirits.  Though only a fraction of the Bacchus portfolio there were more than enough selections for the afternoon at all price points.  I knew that could only stay for two and a half hours so I decided to visit both individual wineries and importers.  A large number of people attended this tasting and in looking at name tags it appeared that almost every restaurant, wine bar, and wine store in Maryland, DC, and Virginia were present.  There was quite a buzz and press of people mid-afternoon, clearly illustrating the importance of wine in this region.

The Hippodrome Theatre

Though a single pour at a portfolio tasting is no substitude for properly tasting through an entire bottle, with focus and note taking, I find that the broad exposure is particularly informative.  Equally important for me is to meet other people.  The majority of my posts are generated from wines tasted at home and as of yet, importers, distributors, and wineries do not appear at my doorstep.  So this Spring I am doing my best to head out to these portfolio tastings to expand my relationships.  I spent part of the tasting with Shane Verburg, who not only works at Bacchus Importers but is also my friend and neighbor.  I am particularly thankful for the introduction to wines I had never tried before.

Below you will find my tasting notes, again these are more impressions, but they should give some idea about the wines I tasted.  I managed to taste 49 wines from 12 tables.  The wines are organized alphabetically by the table they were located at and within a table, by the order in which they were tasted.

Breggo

This was my first time tasting the wines of Breggo.  I thought the 2009 Pinot Noir was drinking quite well now and will develop over the  short-term.  Of the single vineyards I preferred the Savoy and think this will make a fine candidate for aging.

Lee Abraham, Breggo/Cliff Lede

2010 Breggo, Pinot Gris, Wiley Vineyard,  Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Gris which was whole cluster pressed, fermented in neutral French oak.  It saw no malolactic fermentation and was aged for 10 months sur lie in barrel.  The nose was fruity with old perfume and did not reveal what was about to surface. In the mouth there was super ripe and sweet fruit with spice, almost tasted of residual sugar.

2009 Breggo, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 10 months in 44% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.  The restrained nose contained darker fruit. In the mouth there were ripe and dark, black fruit. The ripe flavors quickly focused to linear, fruity, and well delivered profile. Tasty.

2009 Breggo, Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyard, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 15 months in 56% new 60-gallon French oak barrels. There was a nose of red fruit with some dark roast hints. In the mouth this was ripe and sweet at first but developed structure with a good racy finish.

2009 Breggo, Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 15 months in 63% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.  There was a dark nose, almost stinky. In the mouth the darker fruit bore some minerality with chewy dark fruit in the finish, fine+, spicy tannins, and ripe notes in the aftertaste. Young should develop quite well.

Brewer-Clifton

It was a treat to meet Greg Brewer and to taste his wines.  The Santa Rita Hills wines are produced from fruit sourced from multiple vineyard sites including Mount Carmel.  The Mount Carmel wines are specifically from that vineyard site with the soils featuring more clay and limestone.  Each varietal is handled the same regardless of vineyard site.  The simplicity of the tasting showcased the differences of the vineyard blend of the Santa Rita Hills wines against that of Mount Carmel.  The Chardonnays clearly need several years of age to loosen up.  I thought both of the Pinot Noirs were quite interesting and though young, were quite engaging.

Greg Brewer, Brewer-Clifton

2009 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
There was a very subtle nose. In the mouth the precise fruit was almost tart with plenty of acidity that turned towards an apple-like profile. The finish was lifted with a touch of wood? along with good texture in the afteratse. Needs time.

2009 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Mount Carmel, Santa Rita Hills
This nose was a touch more aromatic with hints of ripe yellow fruit. The initial burst of fruit covered the mouth with acidity peaking in the ethereal finish.

2009 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
This was very aromatic with a lifted and finely textured nose of red and blue fruit along with some floral aromas. In the mouth the red fruit was floral with lavender flavors and a good aftertaste revealing ripeness and sweet spice. The sides of the tongue were coated with minerals and black fruit. Really, quite nice.

2009 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Mount Carmel, Santa Rita Hills
This was darker with a low-lying nose. In the mouth the bright, tart red fruit moved to floral, minerally black fruit in the middle. It was quite lively as it stuck to the mouth and tongue. Good texture and flavorful tannins.

The Crowd at Full-Swing

Cliff Lede

These were also poured by Lee Abraham.  The regular Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District (SLD) showed strong immediate presence and while it will develop with age, was enjoyable for its youthful vigor.  The Poetry stepped this up and was particularly appealing for its quiet power.

2010 Cliff Lede, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
This wine is 99% Sauvignon blanc and 1% Semillon.  The fruit was fermented in 66% stainless steel tanks, 26% French oak barrels, 7% concrete eggs, and 1% stainless steel drums.  There was no malolactic fermentation.   The nose was leaner and grassier. In the mouth the flavors were greener with grassy notes and dried herbs. There is an approachable softness and notes of apricot in the finish.

2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 17 months in 60% new French oak. The nose was interesting with red and blue fruit, a bit of herbs, with good aromas reminiscent of traditional Bordeaux. In the mouth the flavors were very forward, racy, and perfumed before dark blue and black fruits come out. The drying tannins are well integrated and there was a good aftertaste. Approachable but will age.

2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Poetry, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec which was aged for 18 months in new Frnech oak. The nose was restrained with blue fruit than tart red notes. In the mouth the focused fruit was racy with blue and black flavors, minerality, and a quiet power. There was black fruit in the aftertaste along with spicy, drying tannins.

Crew Wine

Shane wanted me to try this “grapefruit stick” and boy was it ever.  I could smell the wine as it was poured into my glass from a few feet away but in the mouth it showed good balance. Definitely fun.

2011 Chasing Venus, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc suorced from four different vineyard sites.  This certainly was a grapefruit stick! The grapefruit aromas leapt out of the glass. In the mouth it was more restrained, almost prickly, with grapefruit flavors and a tart citrus–peel aftertaste. A good fruit monster.

De Maison Selections

It was a pleasure to see Steven Alexander again after the Los Tres Mosqueteros tasting.  I only tried three wines which I did not taste previously. All three were different and good.  The Dominio de Bibei should be aged so the others make good short-term wines.

Steven Alexander, De Maison Selections

2010 Juan d’Angura, Garnatxa, Montsant, Spain
This wine is 100% Garnatxa sourced from 15 year old vines on chalky clay soils.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel.  The good nose revealed focused red fruit and perfume. In the mouth there were ripe berries and strawberry candy. This clean wine had a haunting perfume in the aftertaste and perhaps some inky minerals.

2007 Dominio de Bibei, Lalama, Ribera Sacra, Spain
This wine is a blend of 91% Mencia, 6% Garnacha, and 3% Mouraton sourced from 15-100 year old vines located in slate and clay soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeatss in 85% foudre and 15% open barrels.  It was then aged for 21 months in 65% used French oak barrels and 35% foudre.  The nose was scented with lifted red fruit. In the mouth the good flavors turned towards tart red fruit and stones, which was focused and clean.  This should be cellared.

2007 La Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri, Rioja, Spain
This wine is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, and 5% Graciano sourced from 10-90+ year old vines on calcareous clay soils. It was fermented in stainless steel and wood vats then aged for 16 months in 6 year old French and American oak. There was a modern, dark complex nose of red fruit and florals. The well-done flavors were dark and restrained with spicess and a supple lightness that filled the mouth.  I find this quite approachable.

Louis Dressner

I only  sampled three wines and picked the Domaine Bernard Baudry because I seem to have drunk more Chinon this past year.  While both were good I particularly liked the Les Grezaux.

Josefa Concannon, Louis Dressner and Jean-Paul Brun, Domaine des Terres Dorées

2010 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Les Granges, Chinon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from a 6 hectare parcel  of vines planted between 1985 and 1988 on gravel and sand soils with clay-silica.  The fruit was fermented in vat then aged for seven months in barrel.  There was a light nose of delicate red fruit with some perfume. In the mouth there was tart red fruit which followed the nose, underlying perfume, and light but fine drying tannins.

2010 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Les Grezeaux, Chinon
This is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from an old vines on limestone rich soils.  This had a nose of brambly fruit and lifted perfume. There was great presence as the mouth followed the nose before taking on light red fruit in the finish and a good aftertaste complete with drying tannins.

2010 Chateau d’Oupia, Minervois
This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, and 10% Grenache sourced from 50+ year old vines on soils of rocky clay, clay, and limestone.The restrained nose had aromas of harder, black-red fruit. In the mouth there was controlled ripeness, red grapefruit, and some inkiness. This will age and eventually shine.

DuMOL

This was a fun tasting as I enjoy comparisons. The Clare, Chloe, and Isobel were a bit more delicate and nuanced than the Russian River Valley but the Chloe stood above all with the articulate depth of its flavors.

Tom Pillsbury, DuMOL

2009 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Dutton Ranch, estate, Heintz, Ritchie, and Hyde vineyards.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 15 months in 40% new French oak.   The nose had richer, yellower fruit along with some barrel nose. The rich mouthfeel was lifted with good weight and the flavors approached that of tropical. It was racy with sweet baking spices and toast in the aftertaste. This should be broadly appealing.

2009 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Clare, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Hyde Vineyard.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 16 months on the lees in 50% new French oak.  This had a more delicate nose of yellow fruit and ripeness. In the mouth the fruit was ripe but focused with a delicate midpalate and textured tannins. There was a long aftertaste. Very nice.

2009 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Chloe, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Ritchie, Searby, and Lorenzo vineyards.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 16 months on the lees in 50% new French oak. This revealed yellow and green (think apple) fruit with a lighter balance than the Clare but was deep and more articulate. In the mouth the youthful fruity flavors were expansive with good mouthfeel and seamlessly integrated acidity. There is a lot of depth to this wine and good baking spices in the aftertaste.  Lovely.

2009 DuMOL, Chardonnay, Isobel, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Heintz Vineyard.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 14 months on the lees in 50% new French oak. This revealed restrained yellow fruit on the nose. In the mouth the flavors burst in with bright, almost tart, yellow fruit. Good overall texture. This definitely needs time to settle down as compared to the others.

2009 DuMOL, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the seven vineyards.  The fruit was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 11 months in 40% new French oak.There was an aromatic Pinot Noir nose. In the mouth the racy blue fruit comes out at first then a good mouthfeel, followed spicy blue-black fruit. Very approachable.

Europvin

I thought the CUNE showed a bit tight but Mauro was great in its youth and should easily benefit from several years worth of age.

Nic Bradley, Europvin

2007 CUNE, Reserva, Rioja, Spain
The nose was scented with dark, red fruit. In the mouth there was a quick burst of flavor before becoming restrained. Modern with some tannis, and a bit focused at this point it is a solid wine that should last for the mid term.

2008 Bodegas Mauro, Crianza, VdT de Castilla y Leon, Spain
This wine is a blend of 86% Tempranillo and 14% Syrah from the Tudela de Duero and Santibanez de Valcorba vineyards.  It was aged for 16 months in French and American oak.  This was nice with a lift nose containing notes of roast. In the mouth the wine was racy with some old-school flavors, a touch of perfume, and spicy tannins. I particularly liked the darker aspect. Give this a few years to develop.

Hanzell Vineyards

What a treat to taste the wines of Hanzell.  Like the Brewer-Clifton wines I felt the Chardonnays will clearly develop from several years worth of age whereas the Pinot Noir show good approachfulness right now.  And they will age as well.

John Buckley, Hanzell Vineyards

2010 Hanzell Vineyards, Sebella, Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from younger vines which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in neutral oak.  The nose revealed fresh, young, yellow-green fruit that was ripe. In the mouth there was fresh fruit, youthful flavors with a good mouthfeel that moved towards crispness. This mouthfilling wine left the impression of slight tannins. Needs a few years to unwind.

2009 Hanzell Vineyards, Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines averaging 30 years of age.The nose was darker than the Sebella with floral, yeast, and barrel components. In the mouth there was restrained, fresh fruit with a bigger mouth feel, nice ripe yellow fruit, a citrus aspect, and an aftertaste with good ripeness. Needs age.

2009 Hanzell Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley
This had a light nose of ripe cherries and Pinot Noir fruit, a hint of blue fruit, and overall good depth. In the mouth the red and blue fruit was structured with somewhat ethereal flavors of black fruit and minerals. In the finish there were fine but ripe tannins. This was quite enjoyable right now.

Marc de Grazia

I met Todd Ruby last November when he poured several wines at MacArthur Beverages, including selections from Chehalem.  Though I really liked the Chehalem wines I decided to skip them at this tasting since I had sampled a few before and had not had these Italian selections.  I particularly liked the Fattoria Le Terrazze and San Filippo.

Todd Ruby, Pouring Marc de Grazia

2010 De Angelis Gioacchino, Rosso, Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio, Italy
This wine is a blend of 60% Piedirosso and 40% Aglianico.The nose contained red fruit with a subdued floral perfume. In the mouth there was almost cool, sweet tuna-sushi fruit (for lack of a better description and not negative) and an earthy tone.

2009 Fattoria Le Terrazze, Rosso Conero, Italy
This wine is 100% Montepulciano sourced from vines planted in 1999 and 2001 on calcarous clay and sandy soils.  It was aged for 12 months in medium-sized oak casks.  The nose was enjoyable with good red and blue fruit. In the mouth the flavors were ripe, perfumed, and a bit spicy before its dark power expanded in the finish. Nice stuff.

2010 Giovanni Corino, Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy
There was youthful, purplish fruit on the nose. In the mouth there were flavors of red and purple fruit, puckering dry tannins, and a hint of perfume. Needs short term aging.

2006 San Filippo, Le Lucere, Brunello di Montalcino, Italy
This wine is 100% Sangiovese Rosso which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in cement vats, stainless steel, and wood then aged for 24 months in barrels and barriques.  This had an inky, black fruited, perfumed nose. In the mouth there were good flavors of purple fruit and wood box in this mouthfilling, well-done wine. The tannins were ultra-fine.

Oasis Wines

Shane brought me over to Steve Ward’s table where I camped out at one end so that I could taste through the selections on his table.   Steve patiently walked me through all of the wines, which is fortunate because so many were tasty.  If I had to highlight a few: Bibbiano, Montornello, the Piaggia, Riserva, the Steltzner, Claret, the Vina von Siebenthal, Carmenere, and the Sean Thackery, Orion.

Steve Ward, Oasis Wines

2009 Bibbiano, Chianti Classico, Italy
This fruit is fermented in cement tanks then aged from 7-10 months in Slavonian oak.  The nose revealed interesting berries, raspberry and blue notes. In the mouth the flavors were earthy with more acidic red fruit, along with fine+ tannins in the aftertaste.

2009 Bibbiano, Montornello, Chianti Classico, Italy
This wine is 100% Sangiovese sourced from the Montornello parcel which was aged for 10-12 months in Slavonian oak casks.  The nose was more lifted with red fruit and a touch of floral aromas. With riper flavors in the mouth came dried spices and herbs, more drying tannins, and a bit of a racy character. Quite nice and definitely a lovely single parcel.

2008 Piaggia, Riserva, Carmignano, Italy
This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot.  The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and aging for 18 months in French oak barriques.  The nose revealed red cherry and ripe fruits. In the mouth there were neat racy flavors, a great aged component, wood box, and all around a great Italian wine.

2008 Piaggia, Il Sasso, Carmignano, Italy
This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot.  The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and aging for 18 months in French oak barriques.The nose was lifted and floral with ripe red fruit and tobacco. In the mouth the dark red fruit was more approachable, with perfume, lipstick, and a touch of earth.

2009 Steltzner Vineyards, Claret, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, and 13% Merlot which was aged for 22 months in French oak..  The nose was perfumed with licorice, blue fruits, and flowers. In the mouth the ripe black and blue fruit mixed with an old-perfume component before the fruit turned redder. The aftertaste carried perfumed tart red fruit, some sweetness, and fine tannins.

NV Sean Thackery, Pleiades XXII Old Vines, California
The nose showed bright, fruity-tooty aromas along with flowers. In the mouth there was a floral-soap component (for lack of a better description) with the perfume following the nose. The flavors become lifted and redder before taking on old perfume notes. Unique.

2009 Vina von Siebenthal, Carmenere, Valle de Aconcagua, Chile
This wine is a blend of approximately 90% Carmenere and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for four months in French oak..  The aromatic and lovely nose had some good hints of barnyard stink. In the mout the flavors were red, with lipstick raciness, a little chewy then it expanded effortlessly in the mouth with a hint of minerals and a strong finish. Tasty.

2008 Vina von Siebenthal, Carabantes, Syrah, Valle de Aconcagua, Chile 
This wine is an approximate blend of 85% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 14 months in new barrels.  There was a more restrained nose of red candy. In the mouth cooler red fruit made was to young, inky flavors, and lots of fine drying tannins.

2009 Sean Thackery, Orion, Rossi Vineyard, St. Helena
There was a dark nose with aromas of lavender. In the mouth the low-lying dark fruit had power, seemed soft, but there was support along with perfume and acidity. With old school aromas and flavors this wrapped up with nice, sweet spices in the aftertaste. Needs age.

Shafer Winery

My Shafer Winery experience is limited to a few vintages of Chardonnay, Red Shoulder Ranch, Firebreak, and Relentless. Though the Hillside Select is sold out Shafer kindly sent over a few bottles so everyone could taste it.  What an absolute treat, it seemed boundless in its depth of flavors continually revealing more as I worked it in my mouth.  Fortunately the One Point Five is a very good selection instead and highly recommended.  Strong wines all around.

Dave Schroeder, Bacchus Importers pouring Shafer

2010 Shafer Winery, Chardonnay, Red Shoulder Ranch, Carneros
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Red Shoulder Ranch.  The fruit was whole cluster pressed and fermented with indigenous yeats in barrel.  There was no malolactic fermentation and it was aged for 14 months with 74% new French oak barrels and 25% stainless steel barrels.  The nose was very fruity with a touch of citrus before turning tropical in aroma. In the mouth there was ample acidity before turning creamy in the mouth with underlying floral flavors and lots of baking spices.

2009 Shafer Winery, Merlot, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 98% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Malbec which was aged for 20 months in 60-gallon French oak barrels of wich 75% were new. The medium strength nose had a hint of butter at first then tight, mdark red and blue fruit. In the mouth there was a lot of brambly blue fruit with a racy aspect, underlying vanilla notes, lifted middle, and spicy finish. Well integrated tannins.

2009 Shafer Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, One Point Five, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Verdot which was aged for 20 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  The nose revealed purple and black fruit with a lifted core. In the mouth the tarter red fruit morphed into blue fruit with a lovely floral/licorice middle. There were drying tannins on the lips and a lipstick quality. Though young this is really quite nice.

2007 Shafer Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hillside Select, Stags Leap District
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 32 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.  There was a calm, dark fruited, floral nose. In the mouth this calm, brooding wine slowly builds in the mouth. Though there are fine, drying tannins this wine has great depth, revealing more and more as you move it through your mouth. This is a long-lived, expansive aftertaste with that racy liptstick quality. Tremendous stuff.

2008 Shafer Winery, Relentless (Syrah), Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Petite Sirah which was aged for 30 monthsn in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.  The tight nose was low-lying with dark fruit. In the mouth the ripe black fruit was fine, textured, and drying. There were spicy tannins and chewy fruit in this nice wine. Should last for some time.

Terlato Wines

I never would have guess the Ernies Els, The Big Easy was from South Africa and I suspect many others would not as well.  The Ca’Marcanda, Promis did taste Italian and was quite attractive.

Edward Melia, Terlato Wines

2010 Ernie Els, The Big Easy, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This wine is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvere, Cinsault, Viognier, and Grenache.  The tight nose contained red fruits, good wet fur, and flowers. In the mouth there were flavors of tart red fruit, some ripness, and a floral vein that made way to a black fruited finish. There were fine, drying tannins. I would never have guessed this to be South African.

2009 Ca’Marcanda (Gaja), Promis, Toscana IGT, Italy
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Sangiovese.  The nose was complex with dark red fruit. In the mouth there were leaner, delicate red fruit flavors, perfume, aged wood box, along with drying yet sweet fine tannins. Quite nice.

2010 Two Hands, Gnarly Dudes Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
This wine is 100% Syrah that did not make it into Bella’s Garden.  It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 12 months in hogsheads, 11% nrew French oak, and used oak.  There were ripe cherry flavors, big fruit, and sour red notes.

Shane Verburg and the Author